Cardinal Paulos TZADUA 
(Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

This brief speech refers to no. 34 of Instrumentum Laboris. This number deals with the vocation and the role of the lay faithful or Christifideles Laici in the mission and life of the Church. It is rightly said that the lay faithful, by virtue of their baptism, participate in Christ's threefold ministry of Priest, Prophet-Teacher and King.

This is being close to what St. Peter had written in his first letter to the lay faithful of his time. He had in fact written "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people.." (1 Pt. 2,9). By these words "the people" that God made his own, that is laity has been risen to a sublime state of privilege. But one must bear in mind that this state of privilege of laity is not an end to itself but tends towards another aim, it has "an until", it has another goal. The same Apostle in fact continued "that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him", that is of God.

Here we find a basis of vocation, mission and responsibility of the lay faithful to accept, live and proclaim the mystery of Christ, the mystery of salvation and the Gospel - all wonderful deeds of God. It is a vocation, baptismal duty for a lay person to proclaim the Gospel becoming an agent of evangelisation. But until the lay faithful becomes a valid agent of evangelisation he must first of all receive evangelisation and formation in depth. By this it implies formation of the faithful who, having overcome the state of newly born in Christ, needing therefore to be fed with milk, must be able to feed themselves with solid food (1 Cor. 3, 1-2). In other words, one must form lay faithful who are made aware, made responsible, and are aware of their Christian duties and their role in the mission and in the life of the Church. I believe that today our African Churches need a lay faithful who bears witness of a deeply Christian life, a lay faithful who has a very strong spine, a lay person who is committed and inspires confidence to his own Church and who contributes to its self-sufficiency in material needs. For how long must we depend on our sister Churches for our material needs? A lay faithful who has been deeply formed by solid Christian principles would be a great help for solving many problems which oppress us such as ethnic intolerance, lack of justice and peace, etc. The Church calls, teaches, gives guidelines for solving these problems but the direct material operators to obtain tolerance, justice and peace must be lay faithful who have healthy and deep Christian formation.

Original text: Italian


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